Friday, December 31, 2010

German Mortar Platoon & Last Game of the Year

Sorry for the lack or posts lately. Between the holidays, work and some other hobbies I've been spending time on, I haven't had as much time for wargaming as I'd like to have. This is the next installment for my early WWII German Pioneer company. It is a chemical mortar platoon, aka Nebelwerfer platoon. I always thought Nebelwerfers only referred to the six-barrel rocket launchers, but to my surprise the word actually translates to 'Smoke Projector'. This model of mortar was also called a Nebelwerfer by the Germans.

This platoon should give my pioneers an inexpensive source of smoke, and some mass crowd control for Polish and British infantry hordes. For our escalation league, they'll be an affordable option to use for now while my pioneers are fielded as non-mechanized pioneers. Later on when I get my armor attachments and I convert to mechanized pioneers, these are not available on the TO&E. Still I'm happy to have them now and they were relatively quick to paint.

Today, on New Years Eve day, we got together for an impromptu make-up day for our escalation league since the scheduled day for our last game was December 25th. Jerry and I played a 1000-point game using the Cauldron scenario. Being infantry versus Jerry's French Armor, I was defending the center of the board.

Jerry missed his first reinforcements, which allowed me to focus my heavy artillery on one of his platoons, knocking it out. On turn two Jerry received two platoons of reinforcements, and from that point on he was able to pressure my static position easily, first knocking out my only AT asset my heavy guns, then my Infantry. I missed getting my reinforcements until turn five, which was pretty much too late to get them into the game, particularly since I failed all three of my stormtrooper rolls with my PaK-36 AT guns.

Jerry played a good clean game, making no mistakes for me to work with, and defeated me easily. In hindsight I probably should have deployed my PaK-36 guns at the beginning of the game and brought my heavy guns in from reserve since they would probably have done better at long range and the higher rate of fire of the PaKs would have been welcome early. Lesson learned. I'm not sure that one change would have swung the game for me, but it might have helped.

I'm still feeling that at 600-1000 points the light/medium armor forces, particularly in early war, have a large advantage. In five assaults Jerry was able to kill 7 of my infantry stands while I scored zero tank kills even though I passed all of my tank terror rolls. I know some people play infantry forces with great success against armor, but in early war with TA-3 engineers, and no panzerfausts, bazookas, etc. I think it's a very lopsided fight. Reducing engineers from tank assault 4 to tank assault 3 in early war really stings.

Photos from our game are below.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

30 Years War Skirmish

This past weekend my friend Ed hosted a 30 Years War skirmish game at his home featuring some beautiful 28mm figures and a set of skirmish rules that he wrote and has been perfecting. The scenario was based around the skirmishing that led up to the battle of Lutzen and featured some interesting units: Croat light cavalry, Curiasser heavy cavalry, Dragoons, Musketeers and stubborn Scots.

We had a great time and the most recent improvements Ed has made to his rules have made his rule system much better to play. My partner Mike and I ended up on the losing side of the game thanks to some withering opening volleys from our opponents Ralph and Charlie. Towards the middle of the game my stout Scots were able to fend off one enemy curiasser unit in a protracted melee scrum, but suffered enough wear and tear that they were able to be finished off by a second curiasser charge. In the end the early successes from our enemies proved too much to overcome and we soundly beaten.

Ed's game featured unit statistic cards for each unit which included a good photograph of the figures for easy identification, and stats for the core troops as well as any improved stats for officers and sergeants. The cards and the initial terrain and deployment areas are shown below.

Our initial deployment and our opponents, Charlie and Ralph discussing the game behind their soon to be victorious troops.

Left photo - close to the end, those six figures used to be two ten man cavalry units. Right earlier in the game Charlie advances his musketeers to engage our cavalry with ranged fire.

Monday, November 15, 2010

German PaK 36 Anti-Tank Gun Battery

This is a battery of German PaK 36 anti-tank guns for my early war Pioneer company. The local meta game has a lot of light tank companies (German, French and Polish) so for our escalation league these seem like a necessity. I used them on Saturday for the first time and they seem to be a very cost effective asset for my force, so much so that I might actually paint up a second battery which both of the German pioneer company TO&Es allow. This battery is made up of Battlefront gun models and Battle Honors early war artillerymen. This is because the only Battlefront blisters currently available were old stock Fallschirmjägers. To make my battery I substituted some Battle Honors artillerymen for the Fallschirmjägers gunners.  I mostly finished painting up these figures Friday night before our escallation league game day, but I still had some finishing touches to add to the basing before I considered them completely finished and worthy of a blog post.

Next up on the painting table is a battery of 100mm chemical mortars which I proxied for this weekend's game.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Early War Escalation League (4)

Today we had another session of our early war escalation league at Adler Hobby. This being the first session of the month we focused on gaming. As most players are still waiting for Battlefront to release blisters for the early war figures to complete their forces we're still at 600 points in the league. To liven things up we're going to focus on a different mission each month. This month's mission is 'Fighting Withdrawal'. In the photo above you can see the objective placement area marked with green Popsicle sticks. Since both armies were infantry we diced to see who would be the defender and I won the roll and chose to defend.

I used a new army list today which started with of one platoon of regular engineers (instead of the mechanized engineer list). I did this because the blisters for the Panzer I tanks from the mechanized list are still not released so I thought I'd try out the flame thrower-armed foot pioneers instead. For support I used a battery of PaK 36 AT guns that I partially completed, enough to put on the table, and a battery of 100mm chemical mortars which I had to proxy with blank bases. I had 25 points left over so I equipped my engineers with a supply truck which provided me with three sections of barbed wire - just the trick to slow down hordes of advancing Polish foot sloggers. My opponent was Scott with his Polish infantry horde company with a battery of light artillery and a battery of light AT guns which were devastatingly effective.

We're all learning, and Scott chose to try out the Polish special rule 'Bypassed' for this game. This rule allows the Polish player to have one of their platoons arrive at a random location behind the enemy position. This is a tricky rule as the non-Polish player is notified of the bypass and can position troops to block the arrival points. I chose to do this and limited Scott's arival points to only 3 of the 6 available which was unfortunately too effective in a 600 point game and prevented Scott's platoon (his HUGE infantry platoon) from arriving until turn 7 of 8 for the scenario.

Even with this disadvantage, Scott almost won the game with just his artillery and AT guns which were devastatingly effective. His 3 AT guns destroyed my 4-gun AT battery before I could return the favor. Scott's artillery had very good luck digging out my infantry using the guns 4+ firepower rating. At the end of the game I was clinging on to the final objective with only 3 stands of infantry and my commanders. Had his Polish infantry deployed on board and marched across the table he would have destroyed me completely. We both agreed that the 'Bypassed' special rule will be much more useful in larger point games, but maybe not in the 'Fighting Withdrawal' scenario as the defender has the luxury of covering up too many of the arrival points.

A couple more photos of our game are below. Note the placement of my barbed wire at the Polish arrival points. The final position of the troops on turn 8 is in the last photo on the right.

The other game played was Jason's German Light Panzer company against Gordon's German motorcycle company. Gordon's motorcycles had a platoon of PaK 36 AT guns and a light AA half track battery in support. Gordon scored some early kills with his AT guns, but in the end Jason continued to roll along with his Blitzkrieg-ing German armor.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Carnage 13 - Centuries of Conflict

This past weekend was the Carnage 13 convention. This year was my first year as coordinator for the Centuries of Conflict historical wargame theme event, which up to now has been coordinated by Byron Champlin, the director of our club's Tricon conventions. I would like to thank all of the game masters who hosted the excellent 18th century theme games. Without all of you Centuries of Conflict couldn't happen. I'd also like to thank the Carnage staff for their support. I'm very much looking forward to next year's Carnage convention and our 19th century theme.

The winner of this year's Pour le Merite award for best theme game was Rich Wallace for his game, the battle of Chotusitz 1742 using Carnage & Glory computer moderated rules. In addition to being a very well run game, Rich's figures (pictured above) and terrain (pictured below) were both awesome. Rich's use of dedicated table cover using dyed faux fur made for a very realistic looking table. Congratulations Rich for an excellent game! All awards for this year's Centuries events were artwork with laser-engraved glass frames which I made on my laser.

The winner of this year's Pour Encourager les Autres award was the team of Chris Penny and Billy DiGiulio for their Battle of Hohenfriedburg game using Age of Honor rules. Chris and Billy's terrain featured realistic changes in contours and their figures and scenario were both excellent.

The winner of this year's Admiral Byng award for best period naval game was Michael Bailey for his Battle of the Virginia Capes naval game featuring 1:900 Portsmouth Models miniatures.

I very much enjoyed running my game, the Battle of Bemis heights using the Carnage & Glory computer moderated rules. This was the second time I've run the scenario at a convention and I have to say the system works well for convention games with 4-6 players if you size the commands appropriately. The game ended in a very historical American victory with the Americans overwhelming the Hessian redoubt in a flank attack while occupying the guns in the redoubt to the front with a stout skirmish line. Elsewhere in the middle of the table the Americans fought a back and forth battle with the British lights and advanced detachments. The past three times I've run this scenario have been a draw, a British victory and this game - an American victory. It's always fun to see a scenario that is balanced enough to be won by both sides. Interesting fact, for a small convention, Carnage had a large number of Carnage & Glory games; five in total. This is only two fewer than were hosted at Fall In! Fans of C&G should definitely consider attending future Carnage conventions.

Below are photos from some of the other Centuries of Conflict games. Thanks again to all of the game masters for supporting the Centuries of Conflict theme event.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Early War Escalation League (3)

Today we had our fourth meeting of the early war escalation league at Adler Hobby. Since this was the last Saturday of the month this was our modeling day. I came prepared to work on army lists with the help from some of the other people but ended up spending the afternoon chatting and watching the one game that got played between German Light Panzers and a new league member's just-based Polish Infantry. Since the Poles were just picked up they were used unpainted, although the sample anti-tank gun that the owner painted up looked very nice, so I look forward to seeing this army painted up.

First, the eye candy. Jerry brought in his whole 1750 point French heavy tank company, which he had completed before Blitzkrieg was released. This is a beautifully painted force which looks like it's going to be quite effective on the battlefield as well. Jerry painted each model of tank as if it were produced at a different factory which makes for a stunning mix of cammo patterns. Apologies to Jerry, I somehow took the photo and only got photos of his recon armored cars and two platoons of Char-B tanks. His two other combat platoons of medium tanks are out of frame....DOH!

Next up, photos from the one game played. Again at 600 points the infantry took it on the chin from the light panzer swarm. Although the Poles had a battery of four artillery pieces with good direct AT capabilities, they weren't enough to stem the flow of the blitzing tanks. A few of the excellent Polish AT guns might help this.

While I was at the store I picked up four Pak-36 anti tank guns for my German Pioneers. Hopefully they'll help out at 600 and 950 points since the current meta game in the league at 600 points is quite tank heavy. Clever thing this escalation league. Once I'm done I'll probably end up with over 2000 points worth of troops. Fun stuff!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Carnage the 13th

This year is the 13th year for the Carnage Convention hosted by our nearby friends in Eastern Vermont. The convention will be held in one week from November 5-7 in scenic Fairlee, Vermont. This is an excellent mixed convention with historical miniatures, fantasy/sci-fi miniatures, RPG, board games, a diplomacy tournament and a good vendor area with vendors supporting all of these gaming genres.

This year I will be helping the Carnage staff as the coordinator of the 'Centuries of Conflict' historical wargaming themed event. This year's theme is the 18th Century and we have an excellent selection of 18th century period events spanning the entire convention. You can read more about all of the games, in the official Carnage Convention Booklet. My work in preparing for the convention has pre-empted most of my other wargaming endeavours hence the lack of posts since my return from vacation.

For fans of my AWI figures and games, I'll have a post-Carnage report of my Carnage & Glory battle of Bemis Heights game. This will be the same scenario that I last ran at the Huzzah! convention this past spring.

I hope to see you all there!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Off to see the Mouse

My wife Lori and I are heading off for a week's vacation to Orlando starting this weekend. There won't be any blog updates while we're gone. In addition to the obligatory visits to the Disney parks including the Epcot food and wine festival, we're also going to spend a significant amount of our time at the Universal parks. We like to visit in October to see Universal's excellent Halloween Horror Nights evening hours and we're also looking forward to seeing the new Harry Potter section of the Islands of Adventure Park.

When we return I'm hoping to finish up my second platoon of German Pioneers that are on my painting table now so that I can start work on my British early-war forces.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mid-life Crisis

This is the seventh Ford Mustang I've owned. The title of this post is somewhat of an inside joke since I've been driving 'mid-life crisis cars' all of my adult life. My other running joke is that I buy a new Mustang every 10 years whether I need it or not. My last one I actually kept for 11 years. I was overdue!

This is a 2011 Mustang GT Premium in Kona blue. It's basically stock: 412 HP V-8, 6-speed manual transmission, leather interior, Microsoft Sync, Shaker 500 sound system. I did add a few performance options: 3.31:1 rear-end gear ratio, 19" alloy wheels and Pirelli Z-rated tires. I opted to go for a clean look without spoiler, hood scoop, side scoops, window louvres, pinstripes or side graphics. The 5.0 on the front fender is all the decoration this car needs.

I know this doesn't have much to do with wargaming, but I wanted to have the photos somewhere that my friends could see them. There is one part of this that is related to wargaming, and that's what to get for a vanity license plate. Here are the current leaders: 'WARGAME', 'WRGAMES', 'SOPWITH, 'AJSGT50, 'ALSTANG'. Which do you like?

Update: My friend Michael took these photos after work yesterday with his high-end camera. Michael is a much better photographer than I am as shown by his photos.